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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Smith, Elder & Co   17 December [1873]1

Dec. 17.

Smith & Elder

Dear Sir

During the several years my friends have occasionally tried in vain to procure a copy of my work on Coral Reef;2 & the other day my son3 was in Macmillan shop in Cambridge4 & the foreman said he had inserted for 3 years advertisements, sent to all parts of England & the continent for a copy, & had only just received one from Berlin. He suggested that the book ought to be republished, & this leads me to ask you whether you are inclined to do so. I think if printed (except the appendix) in rather better type & style, it wd sell immediately; but I had better say at once that I am so much engaged that I cannot undertake correcting the proofs.—5 Possibly I could add a few notes.— If you are not inclined to run the risk, will you let me have at a moderate price the 3 copper plates, & wood-blocks if the latter have been preserved. In this case I wd try to persuade Mr Murray6 to publish a new Ed. sharing any profit with him if there shd be any; but I cannot say that I have much hope of success. Yet as I regret that the book cannot be procured by the public, I wd make the attempt

Begging for an answer, I am, | Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Smith, Elder & Co, 8 January 1874 (Correspondence vol. 22).
Coral reefs.
Horace Darwin (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter to Horace Darwin, 9 January [1874]).
The Macmillan bookshop was at 1 Trinity Street, Cambridge (Harrod & Co.’s directory of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire 1873).
CD had been correcting Descent for a second edition since 20 November 1873 and had also been working on Insectivorous plants (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). A new edition of Coral reefs, published by Smith, Elder & Co, appeared in June 1874 (Publishers’ Circular, 1 July 1874, p. 420).
John Murray.


Suggests that his Coral reefs be republished.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Smith, Elder & Co
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 159–60
Physical description
AdraftS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9181,” accessed on 25 March 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21